Mutant flu of death

I am on the road to recovery after being laid out with the flu / sinus infection / lingering cough for the past 2 weeks. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sick and for such a protracted period in my life. It really took a huge chunk out of my winter break from work. As such, I figured I’d document what I’ve learned about being sick so that I can avoid falling into the same rut next time.

  1. Get a flu shot

    I can’t believe that every year, I wave off the flu shot. I usually say, “Oh it’ll make me feel sick for a few days, and I don’t usually get sick.” Both of these things are true, but the real reason is that I’m a total wimp about needles and I can’t see volunteering to get stuck.

  2. Have healthy respect for other people who are sick

    I should have known I was in trouble when I got back to Chicago and my wife was ill. Her immune system grew up with much more practice than mine at fighting off germs. Therefore, anything that could possibly take her out for a few days should make me run for cover: I should start taking zinc supplements, start sleeping more, etc.

  3. Don’t tempt fate

    When we got back from Milwaukee to Chicago, my wife was already on the mend, but still coughing. I woke up with a scratchy throat, but it slowly went away. I decided to go out for drinks with a friend that night. I figured that if I was going to get sick, it was a done deal, and I might as well make the most of my last day of health. I figured I’d be out for a few days and I’d be better by New Year’s.

  4. Watch out on the home remedies

    I was pretty wrecked by the time I got back from dinner that night. I had a fever and I alternately was burning up / chilled. I was definitely regretting the beer and mussels I’d put down at the Hopleaf. I took ginger + honey tea (Lola had been ingesting tons of that to fight off her flu) and went to bed. I didn’t realize until my mom told me later that ginger actually can make the fever worse. Whoops. The other home remedy I really screwed up was gargling with salt water. I think I ended up just spreading the germs around and I think I picked up my sinus infection then. In hindsight, I should have gone on antibiotics right away. I’m not sure why I didn’t: I think I had something in my head saying that this was probably a virus and it wouldn’t do anything when in fact it would have staved off my secondary infections. It’s not like it would have been hard to get a prescription either given the number of medical professionals in the family.

  5. Wait until fully recovered before venturing out

    I felt pretty under the gun to get better before New Year’s. The night before, I was feeling better so we went out to dinner with Adam and Jeannette. I managed to last about 2 hours before I had to run back to the condo to sleep, and then I ended up losing my voice. We still went out on New Year’s but I had to sleep most of the day to store up enough energy to make it out.

I came back to California this past Monday and I still sound horrible. I still cough a bunch. I’m really sad that I was so ill that I couldn’t make the most of my last week long trip to Chicago to try out restaurants, etc. However, I got to spend a whole week holed up in the condo with Lola, playing Lost Cities and Monopoly Deal, catching up on Leverage and Mad Men, etc. And that’s the final lesson: only get sick when you have someone around to take care of you. Next year, I’ll make sure to do this right.

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